Featured Pros: 5 Training Camp Battles to Watch
Trying to decipher who will become the starter is difficult when training camp hasn’t even kicked off, but there will definitely be some teams you want to keep your eye on.
For fantasy players, it is important to know you are spending a draft pick on someone that will see the field regularly. For that reason, we have asked five of our experts what training camp battle should fantasy owners keep an eye on and how they predict the battle will play out.
Q. What’s the #1 training camp battle fantasy owners should monitor and how do you predict it will play out?
“The most important camp battle is in Cleveland, and it involves good ol’ Johnny Football. Everything points to Brian Hoyer starting Week 1… right now, but if Manziel wins the job, we have a borderline QB1 on our hands. Shocked at the QB1 potential? Don’t be, as Manziel has the same Kyle Shanahan who helped Robert Griffin be a Top 10 QB as a rookie thanks to the numerous rushing opportunities. Rookie QB value comes from rushing, not passing, and JFF has loads of potential if he can beat out Hoyer.”
“I think Tate will eventually win out and receive the first crack at the starting job based on experience and talent. However, he’s already been knicked up, and it wouldn’t at all surprise me if West was the more productive option in fantasy this year. Tate has already missed 24 of 64 possible regular season games, and that’s as an understudy to Arian Foster. He’s dealt with rib, toe, head, quad and ankle injuries already in his short career, and he’s also a below average pass-blocker/catcher. The fact that he’s yet to stay healthy in a limited role scares me, especially considering the Cleveland Plain Dealer predicts the Browns to rank top-three in rushing attempts in 2014.”
“While not a battle for the lead job in the typical sense – Frank Gore is the starting running back in San Francisco next season regardless of how things play out this summer – I have my eye on the 49ers backfield heading into the 2014 campaign. Marcus Lattimore claims to be ready to go and is hungry for Gore’s job. The team also invested an early draft pick in Carlos Hyde and have other names already on the depth chart, the position runs very deep. Gore scored just two touchdowns and averaged 3.92 YPC during the last eight games of the regular season and enters this season at the age of 31 with a presumed lost step. Whoever winds up at #2 could a) cut into his workload significantly and b) find fantasy relevance of their own.”
“There’s a lot of training camp battles that I am keeping my eyes and ears on this summer. The one I had the most interest in has been tabled as Knowshon Moreno was forced to have surgery on his balky knee and the Dolphins’ best offensive lineman, Mike Pouncey, was lost for the first part of of the season with major hip surgery. With the Lamar Miller Vs. Knowshon Moreno battle on the back burner I’m looking squarely at the New England Patriots’ running back training camp battle for my fantasy football rankings. In 2012 I happened to hit it big with Stevan Ridley in my standard scoring leagues and he wasn’t that bad in PPR as well. Last year I was all in on Shane Vereen being the passing weapon that Tom Brady was going to rely on and I got burned in a lot of PPR leagues by his early season wrist injury. This season Ridley swears he’s ready to put his fumbling ways behind him and Vereen is fully healthy entering training camp. The only fly in the ointment is rookie running back James White from the University of Wisconsin. White has a lot of practice sharing a backfield as he was part of quite a few dynamic running back by committees while plying his trade at Wisconsin, but I highly doubt he has the elite skill that it would take to overcome either Ridley or Vereen this season.
Right now I see Ridley as a value in standard leagues and even in PPR leagues with his current ADP (RB #29). Vereen is a value in casual PPR leagues (RB #17), but is going at a premium in cut-throat expert PPR leagues. White is largely undrafted unless it’s a dynasty format, but should be immediately placed on your watch list in all leagues because you just never know what Bill Belichick’s going to do. Ridley has a lot going for him, he’s playing for a contract next season as the Patriots didn’t pick up the option on his rookie contract. The Patriots were one of the better run blocking teams to end 2013 and Tom Brady isn’t getting any younger and the Patriots will want to protect him by running the ball. If the reports come out of camp that Ridley is holding the ball better and that White is not ready for a big role in the offense then I will buy a lot of stock in Ridley at his current prices.”
“This is an off the radar battle, but it’s with the Denver Broncos RB situation. Montee Ball could very well be a top 10 RB this year given the success of Knowshon Moreno last year, but he does have fumbling issues. I am looking to see who that #2 back is behind Ball as I think he holds a ton of value this year. My money is on C.J Anderson, and he is a player I might be targeting late on draft day.”
Thank you to our experts for contributing their thoughts, you can follow them on Twitter here.
|Jake Ciely (RotoExperts)||Follow @allinkid|
|Jon Collins (Fantasy Sports LR)||Follow @joncollinsFSLR|
|Dennis Esser (Coach Esser)||Follow @coachesser|
|Sean Beazley (EDSFootball)||Follow @XtremeDynasty|
|Adam Pfeifer (Rant Sports)||Follow @aPfeiferRS|